Thousands of jobs threatened at Port Talbot Tata steelworks, ITV understands

Tata Steel is moving towards less carbon-intensive electric arc furnaces. Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

Tata Steel is to close both of its blast furnaces at its steelworks in Port Talbot which could lead to up to 3,000 job losses, ITV News understands.

Although there is hope a few hundred jobs could be saved in the transition period.

Unions representing steelworkers met bosses of Tata in London today for talks about the future of the company.

Large-scaled job losses would be a "crushing blow to Port Talbot" and "steelworkers and their families will suffer" says Charlotte Brumpton-Childs, GMB National Officer.

She said: “It doesn’t have to be this way - unions provided a realistic, costed alternative that would rule out all compulsory redundancies."

Tata will spend hundreds of millions of pounds on decarbonising steel production in a bid to secure the future of its Port Talbot plant Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

Tata have been accused of "playing games with people's livelihoods" by Unite general secretary Sharon Graham. She is calling for the government to "step in and step up".

She said: "Whatever and however they announce their plans for Port Talbot, Unite will fight tooth and nail to defend steel workers and our steel industry.

"We have already clearly demonstrated how and why Tata should be expanding UK steel production in line with growing demand."

The steel giant was due to make an announcement back in November when its board met to discuss plans to decarbonise the site.

But that was delayed after the company started a "formal information and consultation process", with unions putting forward an "alternative plan to avoid massive job cuts".

Tata warned last year that its UK operations were under threat unless it secured government funding to help it move to less carbon-intensive electric arc furnaces.

The Port Talbot plant falls in the constituency of Labour MP Stephen Kinnock, who is urging Tata to "rethink its plans".

He believes the industry can still have a "prosperous future" and it is not too late to "adopt the multi-union plan".

Aberavon MP Stephen Kinnock says it is not too late to "adopt the multi-union plan". Credit: Tata Steel

He said: "Tata's decision to follow the Conservative business model of managed decline for British steelmaking will cause the job losses of 3,000 hard-working men and women – each of whom have dedicated their lives to an industry which underpins Britain's automotive industry, railways, defence sector, consumer goods, construction, wind turbines and so much more.

First Minister Mark Drakeford has levelled criticism at the UK government's handling of the situation, saying that "it has chosen to go ahead without us, than have us fully involved".

He said as the steel industry makes the journey to electric arc steel making "not all the jobs that are there (at Port Talbot) today will be there in the future".

But he added: "The length of time over which that process happens, is absolutely crucial", adding that this should be "phased."

Mr Drakeford hopes that the talks that have taken place today will have considered this to make it more "manageable."

Tata also has a plant in Trostre, the constituency of Dame Nia Griffith, MP for Llanelli. She fears the decision could have a "knock-on effect" on her community too.

She said: “The end of blast furnace steelmaking in Port Talbot will be devastating for the UK steel industry and the future of thousands of jobs across South Wales.

"It will leave the UK as the only major economy in the world without the ability to make its own heavy-end steel and raises serious questions about the deal done by Rishi Sunak and his use of taxpayers’ money to put so many local workers out of employment.

Dame Nia Griffith, MP for Llanelli says the end of blast furnace steelmaking in Port Talbot will be "devastating" for the UK industry". Credit: Tata Steel

Ms Griffiths added: "Its implications for the Tata plant in Trostre in my constituency are potentially damaging too. 

"Trostre sources high-quality steel produced in Port Talbot to fulfil its packaging order book. 

"It will now have to either become reliant on imported steel to survive or completely redesign its products to take account of these proposed changes."

Plaid Cymru members for South Wales West Luke Fletcher and Sioned Williams have issued a joint response saying it's "absolutely devastating" and both are offering to support workers who will be "incredibly worried about this." 

They say "decarbonisation should not be at the expense of workers" and added "highly skilled" people "should be playing a part in that transition" and not "thrown on the scrapheap".

Mr Fletcher and Ms Williams said: “Rather than cutting jobs, Tata should focus on retraining and reskilling, so that workers could transition to carbon-neutral steelmaking.

"The UK Government and the Welsh Government must step in to make sure that those who face job losses get support urgently."

The Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds has posted a statement on X (formerly known as Twitter). She said: "I am deeply disappointed to hear that Tata Steel will be closing their remaining blast furnaces in the UK The UK Conservative government, through their inability to support investment into UK steel, have failed Port Talbot."

Just over two months ago, a Tata Steel spokesperson told ITV Wales: “We believe our £1.25 billion proposal to transition to green steel making will secure the business for the longer term, bolster UK steel security and help develop a green ecosystem in the region."

The UK Government was asked for up to £500m - with Tata also set to spend hundreds of millions of pounds on a development aimed at securing the future of the plant.

Port Talbot has two blast furnaces to produce steel used in everything from cars to cans.

Research from Cardiff University showed that the total economic impact of Tata was £3.2 billion in Wales per year.

Producing steel requires heating carbon and iron to an extremely high temperature. Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

Number 10 has declined to comment on today's reports. A spokeswoman for the Prime Minister said she could not comment on “speculation in relation to commercial matters”.

She added: “More broadly, our commitment to the steel sector is clear.

“We committed £500 million of the UK Government support that will transform the site and also protect thousands of jobs.

“We will continue to work closely with the industry and with Tata steel.”

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